#MyWholesome30 Days 3, 4, & 5 – Recaps and Zucchini-Artichoke-Tomato side dish recipe

To go straight to the recipe, click here.

Now that I’ve worked out in my own mind how I’m going to be working this program, combining the principles of the Wholesome food groups from Whole30 with my decades of experience with low-carb, I feel like I’m going to be able to move ahead with few speed bumps . . . as soon as I do actually take the time to plan and do prep ahead of time. 😉

And I’m going to try to get better about posting my daily recaps in a more timely manner, too. But for now, here’s my post to get me caught up to today (Day 5).

Day 3 (Wednesday)—So I revisited the Morning Mix on Wednesday for breakfast. Because it had been somewhat dry and tasteless in its original iteration, this morning, I added some Tony’s Creole spice and a spoonful of mayonnaise. While that made it much more palatable, I did make the decision that I probably won’t try this again. If I’m going to do something with ground pork for breakfast, it will probably be to make some kind of meatball or seasoned “burger” patty.

Day 4 (Thursday)—Because of combining the whole-foods idea with low-carb, I decided it would be okay to go ahead and eat the sausage I’d already purchased before I decided to do the 30-day challenge. Yes, it has sugars in it, but nowhere near enough to send me over the very lowest level of net-carbs allowed on Atkins Induction. So, like some other things this week, I’m not going to sweat it. Because I got a late start to the day, I decided to go for a big breakfast, so in addition to approx. 4 oz of smoked sausage, I had two hard-boiled eggs, deviled with a touch of yellow mustard and my home-made mayonnaise.
#MyWholesome30 Day 4 Breakfast---sausage and deviled eggs

Day 5 (Friday)—One of the things that you’ll learn if you ever start a food program that’s a drastic change from how you regularly eat, after a few days, you really start feeling physiological effects. Apparently, I’m at that point, because without even realizing it, I slept through my alarm this morning and didn’t wake up until about 11:30. Because I work from home and can set my own schedule, this isn’t that big of a deal. But because we had a university-wide conference call/town-hall meeting, I was a little rushed. So I just stuck with the sausage this morning.

One of the hardest changes for me to make has been giving up my coffee in the mornings. Being as overly sensitive to bitter flavors as I am, I can’t drink coffee without dairy (usually half-and-half, but occasional splurges on heavy cream) and sweetener (Splenda). Because I am addicted to caffeine and don’t plan to break that while trying to break the sugar/carb addiction, I’ve been drinking hot tea instead: Earl Grey, Lady Grey, English breakfast, and Yorkshire Gold. The Yorkshire Gold is by far the strongest and I really have to time how long I leave it to steep, or it’s so dark and bitter I can’t drink it. But hot tea (and iced tea later in the day) has really helped me get through the hungries when they hit.

Day 3 (Wednesday)—I haven’t had a three-meal day since Tuesday due to the lethargy from lack of quick (simple) carbs. Since I already had something in the slow-cooker for supper, to tide me over between breakfast and lunch, I had a snack of an orange and grapes. I’ve definitely been eating more fruit this week than I would if I were doing Atkins Induction, but it’s really been helpful in keeping me from experiencing the massive sugar/carb cravings that I usually have in the first week.

Day 4 (Thursday)—No lunch. Not only did I get a late start, I was super busy with projects for work and didn’t feel hungry until I was HANGRY, but by that time, it was already time for supper.

Day 5 (Friday)—Because I ate breakfast around lunchtime, but I was a little hungry mid-afternoon, I fixed a salad. Romaine, carrots, and sweet bell peppers with a dressing of pomegranate-flavored red-wine vinegar and olive oil, with a little salt and pepper. I need to experiment with vinegar-and-oil dressing a little more and maybe even invest in some small dispenser bottles (like condiment squeeze bottles) in order to create some different flavors with fresh and/or dried herbs.

Day 3 (Wednesday)—Tuesday, when I stopped at Publix after my breakfast out, they had bone-in Boston butt (pork shoulder roast) on sale, so I picked one up to make my Easy-Peasy Pork Roast because it makes a good base for many other recipes. But I couldn’t smell it cooking all day in the slow-cooker and not have some for supper!

But what to go with it? Some veggies, definitely. I’d picked up some zucchini and grape tomatoes on Tuesday, and when I thought of zucchini, it made me think of that awesome zucchini and artichoke salad I made a couple of weeks ago—which also had tomatoes in it! But this time, I wanted a hot side dish. So I kind of made this up as I went, so the measurements are approximate.

Stewed Zucchini and Tomatoes with Marinated Artichokes


  • 1 medium (about 10″ long, 1.5-2″ diameter) zucchini
  • 3/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained, 1/4 cup marinade reserved
  • 12 grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1-2 tablespoons vinegar (red wine or apple cider or other preferred flavor), optional
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Tools and Utensils:

  • Large skillet
  • Sharp knife and cutting board
  • Measuring spoon (if adding vinegar)
  • Measuring cup for artichokes and marinade

Cut off ends of zucchini and discard. Cut zucchini into about 1/2-inch pieces. Measure out approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cup of marinated artichoke hearts and chop roughly. Be sure to get the leaves chopped a little more finely—and if you notice any that seem particularly tough, go ahead and pick them out. Measure out 1/4 cup of marinade from jar and set aside. Halve the tomatoes.

Preheat your skillet over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini and let it brown just a touch. Add the artichokes, tomatoes, and marinade and let cook until zucchini are just fork-tender (this won’t take very long). Sample and add vinegar and/or salt and pepper to taste.

Don’t overcook, or the zucchini and tomatoes will get mushy and slimy. (And I’m 100% opposed to slimy food!)
#MyWholesome30 Stewed Zucchini-Artichoke-Tomato side dish

Day 4 (Thursday)—I was really feeling the power of the lethargy, so I decided on another quick fix of something that I picked up from the grocery store on Tuesday, three small strips of sirloin steak for a quick-fix of steak and eggs.

Day 5 (Friday)—As I type this, I’ve got a pan full of Pork and Green Chile stew on the stove and I’m about to go dish some up while getting caught up with Season 8 of Doctor Who.

How has your week been, food-wise? Have you been making good choices? Tried anything new?

Posted in Food Journal, Journal, Low-Carb, My Wholesome 30, Recipes

#MyWholesome30 Day 2 Recap (and Recipes)–Or why two eggs almost made me quit.

Late yesterday, I updated my Day 1 post with a new hashtag and name for the 30-day food journey I’m on, which I’ll explain below. I’m not giving up, and I’m not giving in. But I very quickly learned that for me to be successful over the next 30 (now 27) days, I must have a little bit of wiggle room. And there’s NO room for wiggling on Whole30. But I’ll get to that.

Yes, there’s a recipe in this post . . . after my very long venting session. If you want to skip the explanation as to why I’m not doing Whole 30 anymore, click here.

Day 2: Breakfast
I faced my first challenge to my willpower and commitment. We went to a restaurant called the Puffy Muffin . . . so you can well (and rightly) imagine that my choices were pretty limited, since I’m not eating dairy, grains, or sweeteners. But I planned ahead by getting on the website Monday night to review the menu. I ended up ordering a la carte: two eggs (over easy) and 3 pieces of bacon. I’m sure the bacon wasn’t compliant (i.e., I’m sure there’s sugar in the cure), but I’m not going to sweat it.

So now, here’s where I ran into a problem with Whole30. The paragraph above is almost word-for-word what I posted in the discussion forum on the W30 website. Unfortunately, it generated several discouraging and borderline negative responses from people listed as moderators. You know why? Not just because of the bacon most likely having traces of sugar in the cure (therefore, I shouldn’t have ordered it), but because the eggs were most likely cooked in vegetable oil. I wasn’t even worried about that because of what the Whole30 book says about whether or not vegetable oil is allowed:

“Vegetable oils: some, reluctantly (because sometimes, you have to dine out) While we don’t think vegetable oils are ever a healthy choice, we don’t expressly rule them all out on the Whole30. If we did, you’d never be able to eat outside of your own kitchen, because all restaurants use them in some form in their cooking. We wanted to create the healthiest program we could, but we also need it to be possible for those who travel for business or pleasure, or simply want to dine out during the month.”

But when I used that quote as part of my response, that just brought on further posts from the moderators berating me for not taking the program seriously enough to call ahead to the restaurant to find out what kind of oil they cook their eggs in or, once there, asking them to cook something off-menu for me [hard boiled or poached—yuck—eggs] or asking the server to ask the cook to use a different, more expensive ingredient, than the standard cooking method [olive oil rather than vegetable oil]. At that point, I was so emotionally overwhelmed by the criticism (which, yes, I’ll admit I’m overly sensitive to), I was ready to go into the kitchen and pull everything out of the “forbidden” cabinet and stuff my face. But then I reminded myself that I’m doing this for me, not for other people. So I “peaced out” on the forum and made the commitment to continue a 30-day challenge, just on my own terms.

Yes, I probably took these posts way too personally. But, I’m sorry, I’m not going to make a fuss at a restaurant about what kind of oil (which is scant to begin with) the eggs are cooked in. If I had a medical condition which required me to call ahead or make a fuss with the waitress about what kind of oil they use for cooking (if I were allergic or had Crohn’s or some other GI condition triggered by soy or dairy or sugar), then I’d either not go out, or I’d make the fuss.

But I don’t have a medical condition like that. And I’m not going to purposely develop even worse disordered eating than I already have and turn into one of those horrible people that makes everyone else at the table miserable and the servers’ and cooks’ jobs harder by demanding that they cook something off-menu just for me because I’m so afraid of a trace of the “bad” oil. My eating is already disordered enough without going to this level of obsession with it.

The reason I decided to do a challenge like this is to make better choices and eat healthy foods. But I need to be able to eat bacon without feeling guilty. And if I accidentally (or occasionally knowingly) eat something cooked with vegetable oil that might have a trace of soy in it, I’m not going to agonize over it. That’s not quality of life to me.

I’ve seen many people who’ve attested to being super successful by following the “letter of the law” on the Whole30 program. However, as I was thinking about this (i.e., obsessing over the responses from the moderators and fighting emotional food cravings) last night, I realized that one of the main reasons I was so successful with Weight Watchers six or seven years ago is because I had “wiggle room”—yes, I had a list of on-program foods that I was supposed to choose from and eat on the Core Plan. But I also had 35 “bonus” points each week, which meant that I could have that “souffle” pastry at Panera once a month, or a sandwich on 100% whole wheat + double fiber bread (for only 2 points). And never, in eighteen months on that program, did I ever use all of those points in a week. And while I’m not wanting to go to that extent of “flexibility” with this challenge, if I can’t meet up with friends for a meal out and eat what I know is a perfectly acceptable low-carb meal because I’m so worried about whether or not there might be a trace of soy in the oil used for cooking the eggs, there’s no way I can stick to that kind of a program.

So, that’s the long explanation of why this is now My Wholesome 30—because I don’t want to call it something that it isn’t.

Day 2: Lunch
After the oh-so-controversial breakfast (which I didn’t know at the time), I stopped at the grocery store. Which probably wasn’t the best idea—since I had no meal plan and, thus, no shopping list. But everything I got is a Wholesome food (fruit, veggies, meat, eggs, healthy fats).

For lunch, I went for a very “lunchy” meal—tuna, but with bell pepper slices instead of crackers or bread, with a side of baby carrots and a small orange.

Because store-bought mayonnaise is made with soybean oil, Whole30 and Paleo, the two main whole-food programs, recommend making your own using olive oil. Since I was already almost out of store-bought mayo, I decided to try making it myself.

It was SO easy.

Homemade Mayonnaise
#MyWholesome30 Mayo IngredientsIngredients:

  • 1 large egg—room temperature*
  • 1.5 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice—room temperature*
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1.25 cups light-flavored olive oil (not EVOO—you want the oil for the emulsion factor, not the flavor)

Tools and Utensils:

  • Immersion (“stick”) blender**
  • 24- to 32-ounce tall/narrow storage container (mouth wide enough to fit the immersion blender head)
  • Measuring cup/spoon

*In all the recipes I’ve read, to achieve maximum emulsion, having the egg and lemon juice be room temperature is of utmost importance.

**While you can make homemade mayonnaise using a regular blender or food processor and the five-minute drizzle method, it’s more than well worth the $20 to get an inexpensive stick blender, even if all you ever make with it is mayonnaise. Instructions for the drizzle method can be found here.

Add all ingredients to container. You might want to stir it with a fork a little bit to make sure the mustard powder and salt aren’t clumped up. Place immersion blender into the container, making sure it just touches the bottom. Turn blender on high and watch the magic happen.

Almost instantly, you’ll start seeing the emulsion cloud forming at the bottom. Keep going about 30 to 45 seconds without moving the blender, then slowly, gently move it up and down and around to make sure all oil is incorporated. When all is said and done, it might take about 90 seconds to get it to all come together. Taste. If you think it needs more salt, add it and mix again for another 10 or so seconds. If it’s not quite flavorful enough, you might want to add more lemon juice, but no more than half a teaspoon at a time. The original recipe called for the “juice of one lemon.” When I checked in my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, the conversion chart equated that to 3 tablespoons. However, that made it too tart. (Which was pretty well remedied when I added the remaining store-bought mayo to it so it wouldn’t go to waste.) Cover and refrigerate until use.

#MyWholesome30 Olive Oil Mayonnaise Recipe

Shelf life: Sources vary, but most say about two to three weeks in the fridge.

If you can’t have eggs or you’re worried about consuming the raw egg (always look for pasteurized eggs if you’re going to make mayo), here’s an egg-free recipe.

Day 2: Supper
For my second challenge of the day, on Tuesdays I meet a friend for supper and an hour of writing. We used to meet at Panera, but as their prices went up, and their quality (of food and service) went down, we decided a change was in order. Since the Publix grocery store nearby (I used to work not too far from where Liz works) has an in-store cafe, along with a salad bar, hot-food buffet-style bar, and hot food in their deli area, as well as free WiFi, it’s the perfect place to meet—and we can do our weekly shopping right after! 😉

For supper, I had a small salad (spring mix, romaine, carrots, cauliflower, bacon, cucumber, ham) with red-wine vinegar and oil (with added salt and pepper) for dressing, along with six chicken wings—two hot and spicy, two “Mardi Gras” (Cajun spiced), and two lemon-pepper seasoned.

So, Day 2 of My Wholesome 30 is in the books (as is Day 3 as I’m writing this). So far, no major sugar cravings; however, I do have the “hungries” an hour or so after each meal. I’ve been dealing with those by drinking hot tea—unsweetened, of course.

Posted in Food Journal, Low-Carb, My Wholesome 30, Recipes | 6 Comments

#MyWholesome30 Day 1 Recap (and Recipes)

MH30UPDATED 8/12/15: I’ll explain further in the Day 2 post, but please note that I’ve changed the name of the program I’m doing for the next 30 days to “My Wholesome 30,” which will be my own personal program inspired by Whole 30, but with allowances for things that might not be 100% Whole30 compliant (like regular bacon or lunch meats that might have traces of sugar, or things cooked by others which might use non-compliant ingredients, like soy products or vegetable oil). I still plan to try to stick to the core tenets of Whole30 (avoiding dairy, grains, legumes, and alcohol and choosing healthy meats, veggies, fruits, and fats instead). But I don’t want to give you the impression that everything I record here for the next 30 days is 100% compliant to Whole30. My intentions and efforts will definitely be 100%, though!

Day 1 on My Wholesome 30 was a success! Even without having pre-planned or been to the grocery store yet, cleaning out the fridge/pantry reminded me of what I already had on hand, and there was more than enough to be able to get through the full day without going off plan or necessitating a run to the grocery store.

Day 1: Breakfast
20150810_105040In reading the newsletter for Day 1, I came across a recipe for “Morning Mix.” The basic recipe calls for one pound of ground pork or turkey (I used pork because I had it and because I don’t like turkey), a diced apple, and 1/8 teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg. That didn’t sound to me like it would be very flavorful, but I was willing to give it a try.


In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown ground meat. While meat is cooking (and stopping to stir it up occasionally), cut apple into approximately 1/2-inch pieces. This will help them cook through faster.

    Alteration to the Original Recipe: The meat needs to be seasoned. Many others have recommended adding chopped onion and garlic, while others recommended cooking a few pieces of bacon first, then cooking the ground meat in the bacon fat, and adding the crumbled bacon back in. I added salt and pepper and bacon bits.

Once the meat is just cooked (it will continue cooking with the apples, and you don’t want it to dry out), add the apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg. At 1/8 teaspoon each, I couldn’t even taste them. So it needs more seasoning than what’s called for. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the apples are fork-tender.

#MyWholesome30 Morning Mix

Makes 3–4 servings, depending on how hungry you are.

    Alteration to the Original Recipe: Others suggested adding diced sweet potato or leaving out the apples and adding greens—spinach or turnip greens or kale (yuck!). Basically, it’s more about using a base of lean ground meat with something added for flavor and other nutritional value.

Day 1: Lunch
This should look familiar, because it’s the leftovers from the other night, when I made Orange-Lime Marinated Pork Chops.

Day 1: Afternoon Snack
Snacking is not encouraged on Whole30, but around 4:30, I started feeling really noshy (that pork chop was really small, and that was only about 1/3 cup of greens), and since I knew it would be an hour or more before I could eat supper, I decided to go for crunchy and sweet:

Day 1: Supper
Again, not having planned my meals for the week yet, I was trying to figure out on the fly what I was going to have for supper. But since I’d cleaned out/organized the kitchen on Sunday—and written down everything in the freezer so that I can eventually plan—I knew I had a pack of four chicken thighs in there. That’s when I remembered Nom Nom Paleo’s Cracklin’ Chicken recipe. I followed her recipe pretty much to the letter, except that I only did 4 thighs (half the recipe) and I used olive oil instead of ghee (clarified butter). So there’s no point in rewriting her instructions.
#Whole30 Day 1: Cracklin' Chicken

This is a great alternative to fried chicken—the skin crisps up nicely, and it’s mostly a “set it and forget it” cooking process (of course, you don’t want to leave anything on the stove unattended—but you really do just want to let these cook undisturbed until the skin gets crispy). But, as she mentions in her instructions, a splatter guard is pretty much a necessity for this! I used Tony’s More Spice on the meat side, so I almost got the flavor of Popeye’s spicy fried chicken.

All in all, it was a good day.

Day 2 (today) brought my first eating out challenge, but I’ll post about that tomorrow!

Posted in Food Journal, Recipes, Whole30 | 2 Comments

#Whole30 Day Zero

The more I’ve struggled with sticking to a low-carb lifestyle, the more I’ve come to realize I need something more structured than just “I’m trying to eat low-carb.” Many, many people have recommended the Whole30 program to me as a great way to break food addictions and kick-start a healthy eating lifestyle. So I’ve decided to start the Whole30 program starting tomorrow (Monday, August 10, 2015).

In a nutshell, the Whole30 plan is to eat non-processed meats, veggies, fruits, and fats/oils, and eliminate dairy, legumes, grains, and all sugars and sweeteners, natural and artificial. Oh, and alcohol—but that isn’t a problem for me—it’s been over a month since the last time I had an adult beverage.


The last time I successfully lost weight and stuck to a healthy eating lifestyle was when I did the Core Plan on Weight Watchers 6–7 years ago. And I was successful because I was proactive and methodical. Every Sunday, before the WW meeting, I would go through my kitchen and make my meal plan for the upcoming week. Then, after the meeting (while all of that encouragement was still fresh in my mind), I’d go to the grocery store and pick up all of the stuff I needed to make all of my meals for the week. (And I saved a lot of money by shopping this way, too—planning around what I already had in the house and then just buying what I needed to complete the menu. A lot less went to waste.)

To be successful with Whole30, I’m going to be doing that for the next 30 days as well . . . shopping from the fridge/freezer/pantry first and planning my meals for the week around that and just “fill-in” shopping.

So to start getting things in order, I started by cleaning out my freezer . . . which included throwing out several things that aren’t on plan for the next 30 days and which I don’t want to go back to eating when I finish and start adding other foods back into the plan. (Like a frozen pizza, a couple of frozen meals that have been in there too long anyway, and some frozen biscuits and a leftover breakfast sandwich.)


There wasn’t as much to get rid of as I originally thought . . . I’ve actually done a pretty good job at keeping the freezer stocked with low-carb options. I should actually be able to get all of my meals for this week planned without having to buy any additional meats.

Unfortunately, I put it off until a little too late in the day to be able to do both the meal planning and the grocery shopping. But fortunately, I work from home now, so as soon as I finish a pending project first thing in the morning, I can head to the grocery store and get the fresh veggies and fruit that I’ll need to fulfill the menu for the rest of the week.

My remaining tasks to prepare for a successful Whole30 program:

  • Clean out the fridge (hide all cheeses in the back of the freezer for re-introduction in 31 days, toss everything that will either go bad in 30 days or that aren’t on plan and I won’t be re-introducing at the end).
  • Clean off pantry shelves (again, same thing as above—I have a cabinet I never go into because it’s partially blocked by my dishwasher, and I’m very much an out-of-sight, out-of-mind person).
  • Deep clean stove, counters, shelves, fridge—this will get done a bit at a time during this first week.
  • Plan meals for the week (should have listed this first!).
  • Cook/prep ahead where possible. Even though I work from home, I’m still a big fan of not having to spend an hour or more in the kitchen prepping meals before I can eat.
  • Set the specific goals I want to accomplish during the next 30 days.
  • Weigh, measure, and take some selfies so that I can do before/afters at the end.
  • Finish reading/studying the Whole30 books (The Whole30 and It Starts with Food).
  • Remind myself daily to not watch Food Network.

That’s all I can think of right now, but I’m sure as I get a few days into the program, the list will grow.

Have you ever done Whole30? What are your tips and suggestions? What are some of your favorite Whole30 recipes/meal plans?

Posted in Food Journal, Low-Carb, Recipes | 3 Comments

#LowCarb Recipe: Orange-Lime Marinated Pork Chops

I’m at a point at which I’m trying to use up the food I already have in my house before I make another trip to the grocery store for anything but the barest of bare essentials. So yesterday morning, I took out a couple of pork chops to thaw, not knowing exactly what I was going to do with them, but wanting to make myself do something with them.

When it came time to think about making supper and I Googled “pork chop recipes,” I ran across a couple of different recipes on the Food Network site for Cuban-style pork chops, the common thread in which was marinating the meat in a combination of orange and lime juices. I’m all into marinating to add flavor (though I wish I’d Googled earlier than 6 p.m. so I could have left them in longer!), I just picked up a bag of oranges at the store last week, and I always keep lime juice in the fridge. Not to mention a shelf full of all the spices I might need. So I was all set.

Orange-Lime Marinated Pork Chops
Click here for a printable PDF version.
Orange and Lime Marinated Pork Chops IngredientsIngredients:


  • 1/4 cup orange juice (or juice of one small orange; mine turned out to be exactly 1/4 cup!)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (I didn’t have any fresh limes, but the juice of one lime would probably work)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra for cooking later)
  • 2 five- to six-ounce, relatively thin pork chops (for thicker/larger pieces, increase amount of marinade and cooking time)
    Spice Rub:

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea (large grain) salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano

Tools & Utensils:

  • Measuring cup/spoons
  • Quart-size zip-top plastic bag
  • Small bowl or container for mixing spices
  • Paper towels
  • Medium to large heavy-bottom skillet
  • Tongs or spatula

Combine orange juice, lime juice, and olive oil in plastic bag. Add pork chops. Remove as much air as possible, seal, and then smoosh around until the meat is completely covered with the marinade. Let marinate in the fridge at least 30 minutes up to 2 hours (for thin chops; thicker chops can marinate longer).

Before removing the marinated chops from the fridge, combine all ingredients for the spice rub in a small bowl and stir to combine well (make sure that you break up any lumps to ensure even distribution of all spices throughout the mixture). Remove chops from marinade and blot with paper towels—you don’t want to completely remove all of the marinade, you just don’t want them to be dripping. Preheat skillet over medium-high heat. Starting with 1/2 teaspoon of spice mix per side, season pork chops. Use whatever is left to cover any “bald” spots and to ensure thorough coverage of the meat with the seasoning.

Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to hot pan and sear the chops in the pan, about 3 minutes per side for thin chops. Even though there isn’t much marinade left after blotting them, what’s there will help them brown gorgeously.

Remove from heat, let rest about five minutes (like while you’re setting up your plating design for the final photo), and serve. YUMMY!

Orange and Lime Marinated Pork Chop

Nutritional Info:
Pork chops are a relatively lean cut of meat, so even with a trace of olive oil (from the marinade and in the pan for cooking), this isn’t going to load you up on the fat grams. When the marinade has the carbs, and then you’re blotting most of it away, it’s always hard to calculate just how many you’re actually getting. I counted this as 2 grams net carbs, just to be on the safe side, and then rounded out my dinner with turnip greens (with peperoncini juice for acid/heat) and a small orange. According my calculations on FitDay, for this entire meal, it was a total of (approximately) 240 calories, 9 grams of fat, 25 grams of protein, and 10 net grams of carbs (14.1 total, 4.3 fiber).

No, they didn’t turn out tasting sweet—but that could be because I only marinated the meat about 30 minutes. But the meat was oh-so-tender and, as mentioned above, the remaining traces of juice left just enough sugars on the meat to give it a a gorgeous brown-seared exterior, which is hard to get with pork because it is so lean.

If you want to, once you finish cooking the chops, you could probably add the marinade to the pan along with a little bit of the spice rub and maybe some white wine or something to create a sauce—but that would add a lot more carbs. And I don’t really subscribe to the idea that meat needs sauces. If it’s well seasoned and well cooked, meat should be able to stand on its own without a sauce to either add flavor or moisture.

Next time, I’m going to add a pinch of powdered jalapeño just to kick it up a notch!

Posted in Food Journal, Low-Carb, Recipes | 1 Comment

#LowCarb Budget-Friendly Shopping Tip: Spices

One of the things that helps on any healthy food plan, including low-carb, is flavor. And flavor comes from spices. But those can be expensive. Well, I’ve discovered a secret, budget-friendly stash of spices in my grocery stores (Kroger and Publix) that have not only helped my budget, but also allowed me to experiment with spices I’d never tried before.


Look for the Badia brand in the International (or the “Latin American”) food section of your grocery store. You should find the prices to be one-third to half (or lower) the prices of even the store brands over in the spice aisle.

My favorite new find?  Jalapeño powder!

Posted in Journal | 2 Comments

#LowCarb Recipe: Creamy Chicken and Artichoke Casserole

So it’s Friday afternoon. I went to the gym this morning for my third work out this week (I’ve been really bad about only going on Mondays for my appointment with my personal trainer, but then not doing anything else for the rest of the week). So I’m working on building better habits and going three days a week. Anyway, it’s Friday afternoon, I’m finished with work for the week, I’ve taken a shower, and I’ve got Season 1 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. running on autoplay on Netflix, while checking email and reading blogs. Then, all of a sudden, my stomach starts growling, reminding me that the salad and fruit that I had for lunch was a long time ago. But what to fix? I don’t feel like standing in the kitchen over the stove. I want something with ingredients that are easy to pull together and don’t take much preparation.

And it hits me.

No, literally. As soon as I opened the freezer door, the bag of frozen quartered artichoke hearts falls out and hits me in the chest. And right behind that was a bag of chicken breasts. Perfect. Time to start Googling recipes. I found several, and this is a combination of a couple of different ones. When you look at a recipe and you love all the ingredients separately, you know it’s got to be even yummier once it’s all combined (you know, that “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” thing).

Creamy Chicken and Artichoke Casserole

    Creamy Chicken and Artichoke Casserole Ingredients

  • 12 to 14 ounces artichoke hearts (frozen or canned, not marinated)
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup grated cheese (Swiss, Havarti, or other of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, thawed if from frozen
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

Tools and Utensils:

  • Butter or cooking spray
  • Baking dish or casserole large enough to hold 4 chicken breasts with a little room between (I used my vintage 10×10 Corningware “skillet”—a baking dish with about 2.5″ to 3″ sides)
  • Large bowl
  • Large spoon for mixing, slotted serving spoon
  • 1/4-cup measuring cup
  • 1-teaspoon measuring spoon
  • Cutting board and knife

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 375°F.

If artichoke hearts are frozen, thaw thoroughly (with this steam-in-bag brand, I ran it in the microwave for 3 minutes. Some pieces were still slightly frozen, but it was mostly all thawed). Drain and chop into 1/2-inch pieces. In a large bowl, combine artichokes, cheeses, mayonnaise, sour cream, nutmeg, and garlic. Add black pepper (but not salt—the parmesan adds a lot of salt) and stir until well combined. Grease baking dish and lay chicken breasts in bottom of the dish, ensuring there’s a little space around each one (though they can be slightly touching—but they’ll cook faster/more evenly if there’s some breathing room in the dish). Season chicken with salt and pepper. Spoon artichoke mixture over chicken breasts and spread until distributed evenly.

Bake uncovered 30 to 35 minutes until chicken is cooked through. If desired, sprinkle top with additional parmesan before serving.

Creamy Chicken and Artichoke Casserole

Creamy Chicken and Artichoke CasseroleWhile it may not look picturesque when plated, OH MY GOODNESS this was SOOOOOOOOOOO good.

You’ll want a slotted spoon for dishing this up—because chicken releases a lot of liquid when it cooks, there is a lot of it in the bottom of the pan.

Nutritional Information:
All of the ingredients are either naturally no- or low-carb. The entire recipe (4 servings) only has 16.4 grams net carbs (32.4 total carbs). So one serving has 4.1 grams net carbs.

When I make this in the future—because this is totally becoming part of my regular repertoire—other ingredients I might try adding (all together or not, depending on my mood): spinach, green chile, chopped water chestnuts, bacon (mmmm . . . bacon), hearts of palm (because I have a couple of jars of them and don’t know what else to do with them), and maybe try different cheeses. Using chopped or canned chicken (or leaving the chicken out) and adding the spinach and water chestnuts would make this a perfect artichoke-spinach dip, too.

Posted in Food Journal, Low-Carb, Recipes | 1 Comment